Do tension and stress somehow manage to sneak into your holiday excitement despite your best laid plans to be merry? If so, you’re not alone. Even if you’re having fun, adding extra activities and commitments to an already full plate can be stressful.

In the midst of all the holiday hustle and bustle it’s important to remember to take care of yourself. The idea of self-care makes some people cringe, but it’s the key to maintaining personal health and wellbeing. Often mistaken for selfishness or neglecting others, self-care is actually an act of love. Everyone depending on you benefits when you first take care of yourself.

Being healthy and relaxed makes it easier for you to accomplish all the wonderful things you want to do for family and friends. It’s tough to shop, decorate or cook when you feel run down, cranky, have a cold, or need sleep. The holiday spirit comes a bit easier when you have more in your emotional and energetic tank to give.

Don’t worry if the idea of adding one more commitment to your to-do list makes you want to scream. Self-care can be easy and inexpensive. Gradually doing simple activities can significantly boost your personal wellness.

Check out these 8 easy and inexpensive self-care tips to help boost your well-being during the holiday season.

1) Breathe: Take deep, centering breaths throughout the day. They help relax your body and mind.

2) Know your priorities: Remembering what’s most important to you can help overcome feelings of overwhelm. If there isn’t enough time to satisfy all the holiday demands, finishing the most important items can create a sense of satisfaction and peace.

3) Give from a full cup: You can’t take care of others if you’re sick, burned out, or generally too cranky to care. Make a point to do something nourishing and uplifting. It can be as simple as luxuriating over a cup of hot chocolate or as special as a spa day.

4) Listen to your body: Many people ignore or override their body’s signals. Your body might be able to tolerate this neglect under normal circumstances but adding the increased stress of the holiday season might be more than it can take. To increase your chance of staying healthy during the holidays listen to your body. For example, take time to eat if you feel hungry. If you’re sleepy, get more sleep.

5) Laugh it up: Humor is great for stress reduction. Do something that makes you laugh. Need some ideas? How about watching a funny movie, singing and dancing to fun music, or telling silly jokes.

6) Listen to calming music: Soothing music helps relax your body. Nature sounds can also help reduce stress.

7) Take a holistic health approach: Self-care means paying attention to more than how much you eat or exercise. It also requires paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, expectations, and interactions. Remember, optimal health means functioning at your best in all areas of your life not just in your body.

8) Create new, self-supportive traditions: If trying to do things “the way they were always done” creates more stress than joy, take a step back and figure out a new approach. Maybe your new idea will become the next family tradition. Traditions have to start somewhere!

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